TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The spark that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played with at the start of the season has since fizzled, leaving the Bucs to fight to get back into the divisional race after falling in three straight contests.

Tampa Bay was off the hot streak, upsetting the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and holding the New Orleans Saints to just two field goals, but after their early bye week, something changed.

Since Oct. 15, the Bucs have yet to record a win, falling to the Lions (20-6), Falcons (16-13), and most recently the Bills on Thursday Night Football (24-18).

Now, as the Bucs head into Week 9 against the Houston Texans, both teams are faced with similar situations. Both teams are 3-4 and have a new starting quarterback. They also have new faces on their coaching staff.

Self-inflicted wounds

The Buccaneers were overlooked in the offseason, but this Tampa team has been very capable of winning every matchup they’ve played in. What’s been hurting them is themselves.

Since their loss against the Lions, the Bucs have recorded 25 penalties for a loss of 173 yards – most of the calls coming on plays that would’ve helped Tampa Bay get in scoring position.

“A lot of it is self-inflicted,” Bowles said after losing to the Falcons. “Whether we’re missing a block or two or missing a hole or two. Starting out the game, they’re loading the box and they’re giving us some passing game.” 

The slow starts have also been an Achilles heel for the Bucs. On Thursday night against the Bills, quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion to put the Bucs within six with 2:44 remaining.

However, it took Tampa Bay 17 plays and 7:21 to march 92 yards for that score. Bowles also commented on their previous “sluggish” starts.

“I thought we were mentally sluggish, offensively,” Bowles said after the Lions loss. “We didn’t get things started early the right way.”

With Bowles mentioning penalties and their offense being the main target at practices ahead of Houston, hopefully, the Buccaneers will put up their fourth win.

Facing C.J. Stroud and the Texans

On Sunday afternoon, the Bucs will challenge new head coach and former Houston linebacker DeMeco Ryans, as well as the 2023 No. 2 overall draft pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud.

The Texans are heading into the Week 9 matchup coming off a loss to the Carolina Panthers (15-13). Aside from Houston giving the Panthers (1-6) their first win of the season, the Texans’ last three games were all against NFC South opponents, meaning they will have played the whole division after Sunday’s game.

Wildly enough, Houston fell to the Falcons (21-19) but defeated the Saints (20-13). The Bucs also beat the Saints but fell to the Falcons.

But when Stroud’s on the field, he’s determined. This season, the quarterback set the record for the most pass attempts without an interception to start a career, breaking the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s mark (176) from 2016. He set the record during Houston’s win over the Falcons.

According to ESPN, Stroud has only thrown one interception so far this year, which came during the Texans-Saints game.


Buccaneers (Wednesday)

  • G Matt Feiler – Did not participate
  • DL Logan Hall – Did not participate
  • TE Ko Kieft – Limited participation
  • QB Baker Mayfield – Full participation
  • S Kaevon Merriweather – Limited participation
  • NT Vita Vea – Full participation
  • T Tristan Wirfs – Limited participaton

Texans (Wednesday)

  • LB Blake Cashman – Full participation
  • T George Fant – Limited participation
  • CB Ka’dar Hollman – Did not participate
  • T Tytus Howard – Limited participation
  • T Josh Jones – Full participation
  • TE Brevin Jordan – Did not participate
  • LB Denzel Perryman – Full participation
  • RB Dameon Pierce – Did not participate
  • DT Sheldon Rankins – Limited participation
  • CB Tavierre Thomas – Full participation
  • T Laremy Tunsil – Did not participate
  • S Jimmie Ward – Limited participation
  • WR Robert Woods – Did not participate


The Bucs will head to Houston to face the Texans in a Week 9 matchup. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.